All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down

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Photo from Olympia Stand

Since the new year, the Trump administration has been hounded by the press after the publishing of the book, Fire and Fury, as well as for comments that Trump made in regards to Haiti and Africa, calling them both, “shithole countries,” and said that instead people from Norway should be coming to the US.

While it’s clear that Trump is trying to play to his base by advancing a program of white supremacy, by and large the mainstream media has largely hinged in recent days on some of the more outrageous things that Trump has said, and not his policy. This means largely ignoring Trump proposals which might affect millions, and instead discussing him eating cheeseburgers in bed, or that it appears that the entire White House staff collectively thinks that he is a stupid child. Meanwhile, DACA is still being used as a bargaining chip to push forward border wall construction, hundreds of thousands of El Salvadoran refugees are threatened with deportation, and Trump has pushed forward an overhaul on how pipelines are approved by the EPA.

But last few days also haven’t been all bad, and in that spirit, let’s get to the news. 

Trump that Regime 

As the Daily Beast wrote:

Congressional negotiators finalized an immigration deal on Thursday that would codify legal protections for undocumented minors while giving President Donald Trump some tangible victories of his own.

The final deal will codify the legal protections for so-called DREAMers that Trump rescinded when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that began under his predecessor. The deal also seeks to undo another Trump decision: the termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for certain groups of immigrants, including Salvadorans, 200,000 of whom could face an end to their legal status in 2019.

However:

the DACA fix agreed to as part of the deal includes a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. Additionally, they will have to wait 12 years from the time they are awarded protected status before they can gain citizenship, according to a congressional source familiar with the negotiations, and they can earn up to two years of credit for any time spent as a DACA beneficiary. Groups of immigrants such as Salvadorans would be able to access the diversity visa lottery program if they have Temporary Protected Status, according to Flake.

Niles Neumuth wrote:

On Wednesday night, Republicans led by Robert Goodlatte unveiled a bill that would extend DACA in exchange for cutting legal immigration of family members by 250,000 per year, ending the diversity visa program, authorizing construction of a border wall, hiring 10,000 new border guards and ICE officials, plus several other reactionary measures. Goodlatte said the measure was an attempt to “do DACA right.”

At the same time on literally the same day, ICE agents were carrying out massive raids, targeting up to 100 7-11 stores in 17 states and in Washington DC. So far, this has been the largest raid since Trump has taken office, as:

Derek N. Benner, acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, ominously told the Associated Press that the raids are “a harbinger of what’s to come. This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters,” Benner declared. “From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation.”

Such raids are also designed to instill massive amounts of fear into the wider population while also pushing through policy changes and clamping down against potential resistance, as DACA recipients are used as a bargaining chip by Trump to push through a border wall. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and other Democrats stated their willingness to work with Trump:

“I don’t think there’s anybody who disagrees that we need strong border security. If the president wants to work with us to make sure we have strong border security, let’s do that.”

The Democrats have done nothing to support immigrants, and on Monday when Trump announced that he was ending the Temporary Protected Status of more than 250,000 El Salvadorans in the US, no Democrats who met with Trump to discuss DACA made any mention of these people who are now threatened with mass raids and deportations in a country where some of haved in for the past 20 year. This should come as no surprise, after all, Obama deported more than any other recent US president.

Speaking of the Democrats, House Democrats today announced their support for Trump’s power of surveillance as the house again passed the “spying bill”:

In a vote denounced by civil liberties advocates, the US House of Representatives has voted 256 to 164 in favor of re-authorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA – one of the main legal underpinnings of the unaccountable mass surveillance system exposed in 2013 by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The re-authorization of the expiring portions of FISA, which was approved by over 50 Democrats, would allow Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice to continue and intensify surveillance of all American citizens. Though FISA is worded so as to imply it only targets non-US citizens, the NSA routinely sweeps up communications of millions of Americans and allows FBI agents to search through the data.

An amendment that would have required FBI agents to obtain a warrant before searching through data the NSA collects on Americans was voted down by a bipartisan coalition, including many Democratic members of the so-called “Resistance” against Trump.

Thinking you can just use TOR or a VPN? Think again:

The 702 re-authorization also allows interceptions of domestic communications made using the TOR network or a VPN (Virtual Private Network), as long as they meet vague standards of threats against “national security” or “critical infrastructure.” According to national security researcher Marcy Wheeler, this “domestic spying bill” essentially hands the Trump administration a free pass for conducting politically motivated surveillance behind the guise of criminal investigations.

Mercy Wheeler wrote:

Importantly, the bill does not permit judicial review on whether the determination that something “affects, involves, or is related to” national security. Meaning Attorney General Jeff Sessions could decide tomorrow that it can collect the Tor traffic of BLM or BDS activists, and no judge can rule that’s an inappropriate use of a foreign intelligence program.

Cliven Bundy walked free recently after being arrested in February 2016 for leading an armed standoff against the federal government in Nevada for allowing his cows to graze on public land. Like with the armed occupation on Oregon, the State’s case quickly fell apart, and once again shows that violent and armed groups on the far-Right are not a threat to the State and will walk free while autonomous social movements are deemed enemy #1.

Those entering the US will now possibly have to give up access to their social media to the State, as the US Customs and Border Protection wrote in a new statement:

Travelers are obligated to present electronic devices and the information contained therein in a condition that allows inspection of the device and its contents… Passcodes or other means of entry may be requested and retained as needed to facilitate the examination of an electronic device or information contained on an electronic device, including information on the device that is accessible through software applications present on the device. If an Officer is unable to complete an inspection of an electronic device because it is protected by a passcode or encryption, the Officer may… detain the device pending a determination as to its admissibility, exclusion, or other disposition.

In North Carolina, local lawmakers are considering new rules that would make demonstrations that are not announced in advance a crime more easily repressed by the police:

The Durham County Commission opened the new year with a proposal to require 48 hours’ notice before any demonstration on County-owned land. “In order to ensure the safety of all involved in and near demonstrations on County grounds prior notification is required if the group will be 50 or more individuals or has the potential of 50 or more individuals,” the rules before the commission on Tuesday state. “If notification is not given within the stated requirements or if a spontaneous group exceeds 50 individuals, the County Manager or his/her designee may determine that those participating in the demonstration on County grounds are trespassing and may request that participants be removed by law enforcement.”

Lasty, after the making public of comments made in the book Fire and Flames by Steve Bannon about Donald Trump’s family, seems his billionaire backers with the Mercer family were none too please, and Bannon was quickly out of job at Breitbart. While this turn of events is not unexpected, it shows that ultimately the cult of personality around Trump is what the billionaires who back him wish to protect, and not those that got him into a position of power.

Bring the Ruckus

In Olympia, Washington, an occupation has been ongoing at the capitol building for several days, however, according to people on the ground, was cleared out by riot police early this morning around 4 AM. The protest was led by indigenous women and was against the construction of pipelines and LNG infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. If you were out there, send us a report!

One Al-Jazeera article read:

…[T]he indigenous community and their supporters, “occupied” the front lawn of the state capital in the city of Olympia on Monday, the first day of a new 60-day legislative session.

“While they’re inside doing their talks for the next 60 days, [we hope] they come to understand that the native nations people are watching them,” Eva said.

“We are outside and we are not leaving until you guys [politicians] understand that we don’t want fracked gas factories … [or] coal mining. We want them out.”

The group is demanding that Washington Governor Jay Inslee take a stronger stance against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from the Alberta tar sands to terminals and refineries in British Columbia, on Canada‘s west coast, and the northern part of Washington state.

Indigenous and environmental rights groups say the pipeline threatens native sovereignty and puts wildlife, as well as the land and sea along the route, at risk.

The recent call in-campaign for J20 defendants was a big success, you can read about it here. Remember, people are also doing a call in for those arrested in Charlottesville. Also the lawsuit against the DC police during J20 is expanding to more people:

Clouds of pepper spray filled the street and the noise from flash-bangs ricocheted off the buildings. One officer tried to help us, yelling “she has a child, she has a child!” and running beside us — but we lost him. Many of the officers were masked; wearing all black and helmets so you couldn’t tell them apart. A. pressed his face into the space where my neck and shoulder meet as I ran with him to where I knew we would be safest — towards the protesters.

I had trouble running because he is getting too big to carry — and because I was coughing from the pepper spray. Another protester ran up and took A. and ran with him. Protesters — strangers — surrounded my child to protect him; his face was red and splotchy from either crying or being exposed to pepper spray. Someone wiped his face with their bandana and water. The flash-bangs and pepper spray continued, so we picked him up and ran again.

People have talked a lot about that day and the violence that took place. I need to be very clear: the police are the ones who put us in danger. The other protesters were our safety.

But what joining the ACLU-DC’s lawsuit does do is show my son that he is right: he is right to want to stand up for justice, he is right for wanting to speak up, and he is right for imagining a very, very different future — and that my community and I will do what it takes to protect him from harm.

The Earth First! Winter Organizers Conference has been announced in February 23rd to 26th in Southern Mississippi. Info is still coming together, but can be found here.

Some good news in Durham:

Felony charges have been dropped against eight protesters who were charged with tearing down a Confederate monument in front of the old Durham County courthouse in August 2017, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols confirmed Thursday.

Bad news though in North Dakota for Water Protectors:

The first of the trials from the November 15, 2106 action in commemoration of missing and murdered indigenous women concluded today. Water Protector Rodrick Joe was convicted of Tampering with a Public Service, a Class C felony.

“I was there to support my indigenous sisters,” said Joe upon sentencing. “There are still people out there killing and raping our women. It happens to all indigenous women everywhere. I want to bring awareness to it. People need to realize that this is happening in our country.”

On why he came to Standing Rock, Joe said: “Back on the Navajo reservation our water is already contaminated. I have relatives who got cancer from drinking that water. So I wanted to take this chance to stand with my people.”

Camp White Pine fighting Energy Transfer Partners in Pennsylvania issued a statement:

During this ‘halt,’ people need to remain skeptical and vigilant. It will be up to folks out on the ground to hold Energy Transfer Partners, the Pennsylvania DEP, and Governor Tom Wolf accountable to this order. ETP has worked in secret on unauthorized portions of the project. There is hardly reason to believe that they will stop this practice. Now is the time to get out and about with cameras, and record activities. We will see after 10 days if Energy Transfer Partners is even interested in complying with this order.

This halt was not a gift from the governor’s office. It was won by a group of residents who demanded it. As always, the responsibility of putting a stop to ETP’s dangerous practices will continue to fall on people living under a government who refuses to protect us.

This order does not hold ETP accountable for the damage they have already done, or the crimes they have committed. It does not bring clean water to those who have already lost it. It does not bring justice to those whose rights have been violated, including our environment. Now is not the time to sit back and bask in a false sense of relief. It’s a time to push back with everything we have left.

The Swanson Fish Farm Occupation continues at in so-called British Columbia, and is now approaching 150 days. Here’s a recent video from their Facebook:

Action on the frontlines

Swanson Occupation Day 140 -We stand in full solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Burnaby Mountain, and at the Capital in Washington State. The Police, industry and Governments need to start respecting and honoring our women, rather than prosecute them. This must stop!!!

Posted by Swanson Occupation on Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We also want to encourage people to watch this awesome talk from the people resisting Line 3 in Minnesota:

Posted by Makwa Initiative – Line 3 Frontline Resistance on Friday, December 29, 2017

Lastly, some neo-Nazis in Philadelphia were quickly shown the door at a punk show. Read more here.

Social Media Roundup

It’s Going Down

On January 15th, actions will be taking place on both sides of the prison walls for #OperationPUSH, so be sure to watch IGD for updates, interviews, and ways to support.

Two people facing charges from Charlottesville are needing calls to demand that their charges are dropped. Please, take a few minutes and make some calls. Info here.

#BuildtheBase events are happening across the US! There’s some really inspirational stuff happening, from an autonomous convergence in Portland, a conference in Michigan, a block party in Asheville, a week of action in Pittsburgh, and much more! There are also benefits, discussions, film showings, and events happening in a variety of cities and towns. If you haven’t already, take the initiative and organize something. Check out our list so far here.

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